Mumsnet Logo
Please
or
to access all these features

Welcome to Mumsnet's holiday forum. Discuss all international travel here, including both shorthaul and longhaul trips. Related topics: UK holidays & day trips, skiing, camping & campervans.

Holidays

Krakow break - Auschwitz question

25 replies

recycledcat · 23/01/2022 22:24

I have heard great things about Krakow (post from ex-pats from there and friends who have visited).

I would like to do a mini-break soon but feel that if I go and don't go to Auschwitz then I am in someway being disrespectful.

However I am equally fearful of it being seen as a ghoulish attraction (some friends have been and said some visitor groups were unsavoury and downright nasty - texting, inappropriate selfies etc..)

What have others experiences been like please? Should I go (I want to - but am afraid of being annoyed by those who don't respect magnitude of what happened; if that makes sense)

Should I separate the two? It is hard when I don't know if we will ever return but feel torn

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

NYnewstart · 23/01/2022 22:29

It was a hard day but I’m so glad I went. It gives a much greater depth of understanding of the horrors that happened.

Please
or
to access all these features

Lottapianos · 23/01/2022 22:31

Krakow is fabulous. We went about 10 years ago. We went to visit Auschwitz while we were there. I don't think anything can really prepare you for the experience. I felt really numb for most of it, and then towards the end of our visit it all hit me like a ton of bricks and I ended up sobbing. There is so much horror everywhere you turn, it's really hard to take in. That said, I'm really glad we visited and would recommend it, if you feel up to it. I don't remember any of the behaviour you describe, but you have no control over other people's behaviour wherever you go. You just need to try your best to ignore it if it happens and let them continue making assholes of themselves

Please
or
to access all these features

Branleuse · 23/01/2022 22:32

Its an important historical site. Its not a ghoulish attraction.

Please
or
to access all these features

senua · 23/01/2022 22:33

There are a lot of people in the world. They react to things in different ways. Accept that and do your own thing.
In most visitor attractions, people tend to mill around the centre and don't wander far. You will be able to find a place to have a bit of quiet contemplation.
Do go. It will be hard but it will be what you make it. You could even go as far as forgiving the twits and being grateful that we live in a society that allows them such freedoms. /pollyanna mode on.

Please
or
to access all these features

saraclara · 23/01/2022 22:36

You are not obliged to go there. Not remotely.
I've been (but we go to that area regularly as my in law relatives live in the region). It's hard to say how you'll find it if you do. I found my emotions shut down to be honest. That's possibly a psychological subconscious thing. I don't think I'm a different person for going, or that it would have been wrong for me not to go.

Can I ask why you feel you have to? I've heard this sort of reasoning before and I don't really understand it.

Please
or
to access all these features

Precipice · 23/01/2022 22:36

It's not in any way disrespectful to not go to a memorial space for an atrocity just because you're in the broadly general area. It's not even the same city. There is no obligation.

I am from Poland and I went to visit Auschwitz as an adolescent. I too have heard reports of inappropriate tourists, but it's not something ubiquitous and I did not see that. I would not base your decision on whether you go or not on the idea that there might be people there who are acting in a very inappropriate fashion.

What do you mean "separate the two"? Have a separate trip from the UK to that area of Poland where you just go to visit Auschwitz and don't do anything more pleasant in the area (Kraków, a trip to Wieliczka). That sounds like an odd idea to me.

Please
or
to access all these features

ifeelabitsad · 23/01/2022 22:38

I think you should only go if you want to. I'm did as I felt it was part of history I wanted to experience. What hit me was seeing the human hair that had been cut and shaved. I broke down. It made it real. I quietly paid my respects to those that suffered for my freedom.

Please
or
to access all these features

dipdye · 23/01/2022 22:38

Krakow was fab. Very beautiful, and very reasonable. Good food.

Visited Auschwitz and I have to admit there were a few teenage tourists who were too rowdy for my liking but on the whole I was glad I went. Very sobering.

Please
or
to access all these features

dipdye · 23/01/2022 22:39

Definitely not a ghoulish attraction - as a pp said it's an intrinsic part of history.

Please
or
to access all these features

notacooldad · 23/01/2022 22:43

I've been going to Krakow for more than 20 yearsand have never been. Sometimes I stay in the city, sometimes I stay a night and then go to the mountains or lakes for skiing, biking g or hiking . I may go one day though.
While you are in Krakow I would recommend goi g to the Salt mine. I thought it may be ok and part of the tourist sights. We all loved it!

Please
or
to access all these features

saraclara · 23/01/2022 22:44

You're on holiday. You're taking this trip because you've heard great things about Krakow. You don't have to do something that you're not going to enjoy, out of some weird obligation. You don't owe anyone that visit. It makes no difference to the people who died there.
There is nothing remotely disrespectful about having a nice city break and not travelling 70 miles to something uncomfortable and distressing.

Please
or
to access all these features

Fangdango · 23/01/2022 22:46

I don't see why you should go, and when I had the chance, I didn't. I read, visit museums, watch documentaries, certainly care if that's not too trite a word. I absolutely accept that people visit and find the experience important. I am sure I could be a better human being in lots of ways but I don't actually feel this would be good for me in any way or do anyone else any good. So I have always been very comfortable not going - had the chance a few times.

It interests me that it seems so important to others, and of course I think it should stand as a memorial and place of education - but no I won't ever go there.

Please
or
to access all these features

Keladrythesaviour · 23/01/2022 22:49

I've been twice and I do recommend it. It's not a goulish attraction and I think it's important to keep in people's minds. It won't be around forever, the buildings are deteriorating so people need to see it, and to talk about it. However, saying that - last time I went I was shocked at people's behaviour. We saw people, including some Jewish teenage boys (wearing religious store) making tiktok videos and having photos on the railway lines. We got the feeling they had perhaps been sent to help re-engage them with their community, but I don't think it was working. People are very disrespectful with their phones - there are two areas you are asked not to take photos in, and people did so consistently in both when we were there. But, there are also lots of respectful visitors too - bit obviously you don't notice them as much.

From the practical side it's quite a trek out of Krakow! If you're only there for a short visit you might, quite validly, decide you don't have time to go as you do have to sacrifice the most of a day to it. Lots of tours offer a "Auschwitz - salt mines" combo and I can't imagine anything worse. You wouldn't have any time to process what you've seen, the salt mines are well worth their own day and trip, and you'd spend ages on the road.
There are plenty of museums or memorials etc in the area if you want to pay your respects but don't want to do Auschwitz (for absolutely any reason). Schindler's factory museum is very good for example.
The first time I went to Krakow we did a day dedicated to all things holocaust. It was overwhelming, but I'm so pleased we did it. We then spent the rest of the days doing other non-holocaust related visits such as the salt mines and the castle. It helped to stop the misery leech into the whole trip. The second time we merged more as we had less days but didn't do Schindler's factory musuem so slightly less overwhelming.

Ultimately - do what you feel is right for you. There is no obligation to visit and if you don't think you'd find it helpful in any way, then don't go. Enjoy the area, it really is wonderful and has a lot to offer.

Please
or
to access all these features

Ohmybod · 23/01/2022 22:56

We went went on a visit to krakow for a wedding. The only time we could go was the morning of the wedding day - wedding was early evening. It was in hindsight the wrong thing to do as I felt so flat and down for the rest of the day as I processed what I had seen and heard. I couldn’t feel joy during the wedding service and was over emotional. But, it is an important and educational memorial. If you do go just be prepared for it to dominate your day.

Please
or
to access all these features

Theoldwrinkley · 23/01/2022 23:07

Hubby and Don went a few years ago. Son is aspergers and I was v worried that he would act inappropriately, but it was his idea to go so thought he would be OK. Both thought an important historical monument. Polish guide made a v interesting point in that that area of Poland could be a deprived down beat and poor area of the country, but due to global 'interest' (that seems the wrong word but I can't think of anything better) the area is quite prosperous. So maybe the unbelievable suffering of all those millions of people has left some sort of legacy to improve the lives of those who live there now. I have mixed feelings.

Please
or
to access all these features

Theoldwrinkley · 23/01/2022 23:08

Not Don, should be son (who is not named Don!)

Please
or
to access all these features

recycledcat · 24/01/2022 07:56

Thanks all - some food for thought. I agree that it is an important historical site - when I say "ghoulish attraction" I was referring to reports of how others (a tiny minority) treat the place and behave on their visit. Apologies if it implied I was being disrespectful.

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

alicewasahorse · 24/01/2022 08:02

I found it very harrowing but glad I went. In winter it gets dark early and we stupidly made our own travel arrangements. Wandering around when it's getting dark when all the bus groups have left is not something I'd recommend. Neither is walking back to the station. The whole area feels off.

If I was you I'd go via a proper tour company.

Please
or
to access all these features

rifling · 24/01/2022 08:13

Don't go if you don't want to. I have no intention of ever going. That doesn't mean I have forgotten about the holocaust.

Please
or
to access all these features

Caramellatteplease · 24/01/2022 08:13

We went very early in the morning travelled independently on a bus direct from Krakow and took one of their audio tours. It worked very well for us as we were able to take things at our own pace, it was quieter, we weren't part of a large group and we stopped when we didn't want to deal with anymore (we saw the second site we didn't actually go in).

But for us it was partially about supporting the GCSE history curriculum (and it really was incredible for this). I'd absolutely do Krakow without Auschwitz if I was just going pleasure.

The one trip I wouldnt miss was a trip to zakopane and the thermal baths done as an individual group. Yes it was expensive but absolutely incredible.

Please
or
to access all these features

sashh · 24/01/2022 09:32

I think if you can cope with seeing it, then you should.

Most, if not all, Israeli children visit a concentration camp. I think it is vital that they see that they are not alone in finding the holocaust horrific.

If it become a place for just the ghoulish inappropriate visitors and Israeli school children it would be a shame.

Personally I do not think I could cope, although I have been to Oradour-sur-Glane.

I don't think of these places as tourist attractions, they are places terrible things have happened, we can't go back it time to stop it, the least we can do (again if able) is to treat it as a pilgrimage or a remembrance of those people.

Please
or
to access all these features

mocktail · 24/01/2022 09:34

You really don't have to go. I found it moving and interesting and important, and was glad I went. I also really enjoyed Krakow itself.

Please
or
to access all these features

Snakeplisskensmum · 24/01/2022 09:45

I went last year and thought I would be in bits and although it is extremely harrowing and will live with me forever, I was able to see it as an important time in history and didn't get overly emotional as I thought I would.
No one was disrespectful when I was there, quite the opposite. The guide impressed the seriousness of the place to the group and everyone was sombre...you listen to the guide through headphones so it's quiet.
I'm so pleased I went. Whenever I feel myself stressing about some minor woe, I think back and it really makes you look at things with a different perspective.

Please
or
to access all these features

Babdoc · 24/01/2022 10:02

I took my DDs when they were 16 and 17. It was heartbreaking, and we asked the young Polish tour guide at the site how she coped with it every day.
She said that at first she went home and cried every day. But then she met some actual Auschwitz survivors, and now she feels proud to tell their stories to the world and make sure the Holocaust is never forgotten.
She is right, and as that generation dies out, we need to educate our own young about it.
The site itself is not at all ghoulish or “torture porn” - it is deeply respectful and if anything understated - the guides are calm and factual, letting the horror speak for itself.
I was chilled by the cold blooded efficiency and inhumanity of the Nazis - they had dockets for the numbers of gold teeth shipped to Berlin each month, the weight of human hair shipped for use as insulation, blueprints drawn up by a firm of architects for the gas chambers - it was run like a business, exploiting human beings as raw material. And yet, in the midst of the worst of human cruelty, there were wonderful stories of heroism and sacrifice by the victims.
It took me a long time to reflect on my feelings after the visit - it affected me more than anywhere else I have been. But my abiding feeling is that love is stronger than hate, and always will be, however many evil regimes temporarily exert power.

Please
or
to access all these features

IdblowJonSnow · 24/01/2022 10:03

I went to krakow for 3 days and didn't go. If I'd gone for longer I think I would have.

Having been to the killing fields and S21 I knew how upsetting I'd find it.

It's a very personal choice. I don't think it's disrespectful to choose not to go personally.

Please
or
to access all these features
Similar threads
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?